What are Condensate Traps and Why Are They Necessary?
Condensate traps, usually used in steam systems, are mechanical devices designed to discharge condensate while preventing the escape of live steam. They typically operate based on changes in fluid dynamics, density or temperature.
These traps remove condensate from steam lines and other equipment to ensure efficient heat transfer. They enable steam to be in as dry a state as possible to exchange heat efficiently and economically. These traps also remove condensate to prevent water hammer, which could lead to significant equipment damage.
Where are Condensation Traps Used?
Condensate traps are widely used across industry. Some common applications include:
- Steam distribution systems
- Heat exchangers
- Steam-driven equipment (e.g. turbines, sterilisers)
- Industrial dryers
- Biogas (including THP and AER)
- Water and Wastewater Treatment
- Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Types of Condensate Traps
Steam traps can be categorised into three main types, followed by some additional application/industry specific designs:
- Thermostatic traps: These traps remove condensate based on the temperature differences between the steam and liquid. The element within the valve opens to discharge condensate when it contracts (e.g. in the presence of cooler condensate below saturation temperature) and closes when it expands (e.g. in the presence of steam at steam temperature).
- Mechanical traps: These traps operate based on the principle of buoyancy. When condensate enters the trap, the float rises to open the valve. Once the condensate is discharged, the float falls to close the valve.
- Thermodynamic traps: These traps rely on the formation of flash steam and operate based on the differences in velocity between steam and condensate.
- ATEX-rated hydrogen condensate traps: These traps are dedicated H2 condensate traps that can be used in potentially explosive atmospheres and are compatible with aggressive condensates. They are specially designed to ensure safe operations in industrial environments where there may be ATEX or DSEAR requirements.
- ATEX-rated biogas condensate traps: These traps are dedicated for biogas applications that again can be used in potentially explosive atmospheres and are compatible with particularly nasty media. They are specially designed to ensure safe operations in industrial environments where there may be ATEX or DSEAR requirements.
For more information on our full range, read the guide on our full range of self-acting control valves.
Considerations for Specifying Condensate Traps
There are several considerations involved in specifying steam traps and condensation traps. Depending on the system requirements, you may need to consider:
- Rate of condensate removal (flow or discharge rates)
- Venting requirements
- Design conditions of steam and condensate (temperature, pressure)
- Operating conditions of steam and condensate (temperature, pressure)
- Presence of temperature control
- Maintainability and serviceability
- Resistance to dirt, corrosion or particulates
- Durability and lifespan
- Hazardous area considerations (e.g. ATEX rating for H2 condensate traps
- Considerations for flash steam
Different steam traps have their own advantages and disadvantages that need to be considered to ensure compatibility with a system’s requirements. For example, depending on the process needs, a condensate trap may need to discharge condensate as soon as it forms (at steam temperature). Alternatively, a steam trap may be required to discharge cooler condensate (below saturation temperature). These factors impact the amount of condensate a trap must manage.
Whatever your application, system or maintenance needs, our expert technical team can help assess your requirements to select the most appropriate, fit-for-purpose trap to maximise process efficiency.
Optimise safety and performance with our comprehensive range of steam and condensate traps. We offer robust solutions designed to meet the demanding requirements of industrial settings, including stringent ATEX directives or DSEAR regulations. Explore our versatile offering or get in touch with our expert team for reliable solutions tailored to your specific steam and condensate management needs.